Exploiting the Shepard Murder

by Patrick J. Buchanan – October 20, 1998

Matt Shepard is dead. His death was vicious and violent.

According to prosecutors, Shepard was in the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyo., when he “confided to Mr. McKinney and Mr. Henderson (his alleged killers) that he was gay. The subjects deceived Mr. Shepard into leaving with them … to a remote area.”

While walking into a field, Henderson “struck Mr. Shepard in the head with a pistol.” The two then “tied Mr. Shepard up with rope, robbed him and tortured him, while beating him with the butt of a pistol. During the incident, the victim was begging for his life.”

Tied to a fence post, Shepard was left to die. Not for 16 hours was he found. He never regained consciousness.

Given the savagery of the crime, the death penalty is deserved, and given Wyoming’s law-and-order tradition, his killers will face it. Yet Matt Shepard is not going to rest in peace. His death is already being exploited to launch a new round of Christian bashing.

NBC’s “Today” virtually indicted the Family Research Council for moral complicity in Matthew’s murder because the FRC has been running ads urging homosexuals to give up an immoral lifestyle and embrace the truth of Christ. Columnists and cartoonists piled on.

The left is now using Shepard’s murder both to diabolize Christian teachings on homosexuality and to impose on society its own moral code — in a new U.S. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Since Wyoming is prepared to execute the killers, what more does the left want? Answer: The left wants the thought punished as well as the deed. Those who act out of bigotry are to be treated with special severity. With anti-gay crimes, the left is willing to suspend the 14th Amendment’s provision of equal protection of the laws.

Do advocates of this new law realize what they are saying? They are saying that if Matt’s sadistic murderers had been gay, his killing would be of no special interest to them, and if Matt had not himself been gay, this atrocity would not be a hate crime.

They don’t care about Matthew Shepard. They care only that he was gay. They have made his murder their cause only because his homosexuality put him in a class of preferred victims, and his alleged killers appear to belong to a class that is hated with a passion — white males who despise homosexuals.

When one reflects upon how these laws work, the hidden agenda becomes clear. Under a hate-crimes statute, the Texas thugs who tied a black man to a truck and dragged him to his death committed a hate crime.

But if the dead man had been white, or his killers black, that would not qualify as a hate crime.

Under Janet Reno’s proposed Hate Crimes Prevention Act, teenagers who drive through a gay area yelling taunts would be guilty of a verbal hate crime. But a homosexual who murdered an 8-year-old boy he raped would not.

A conservative congressman who yelled an epithet for gay as he punched Barney Frank in the nose could be charged with a hate crime. But if Barney Frank called a conservative congressman a “fascist” and punched him in the nose, he could not.

Painting a swastika on a wall is a hate crime, but the Terrence McNally play running in New York, in which actors portray Jesus and his apostles in simulated homosexual sex, is avant-garde artistry.

We live today in a strange land where ethnic slurs are federal crimes, but a doctor who takes a hammer and smashes the head of a baby being born is performing a constitutionally protected act.

In back of all this is the ideology of the Hard Left which holds that America is an irredeemably racist, homophobic, nativist, sexist, gun-crazed country where bigots must be controlled in the name of decency.

To prove America’s wickedness, leftists carefully tweezer out of all U.S. crime statistics the tiny number of outrages that make their point. Then, their publicity organs go into overdrive to exploit the few outrages to propagandize for new laws.

To show the fraud of what is being done, ask yourself: Why has the left not demanded that all interracial assaults and rapes be made hate crimes? Indeed, if violence against women and racial violence are the real enemy, let’s permit a federal death penalty in every case of interracial murder.

Yet the Justice Department doesn’t even publicize the statistics on the race of the victims of violence or of the race of the perpetrators. Because the weight of those numbers would crush the myth about America.